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Intro Thursday: Marrone believes in OL


JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone likes what he has seen.

And while more work must be done, the new Jaguars assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach already has seen every Jaguars game from last season. Twice.

So, Marrone has seen enough to have an idea.

And the idea he has so far – a little more than two weeks into his tenure – is there is more to like about the line than the statistics from last season might initially indicate.

"What's great about here is they're so young," Marrone said Thursday as he and three other recently hired Jaguars offensive assistants met with the Jacksonville media for the first time.

"You have your chance to develop them the way you want to develop them in the foundation of what you believe in. That's a whole lot easier to do when you have a bunch of younger players."

Marrone, the head coach of the Buffalo Bills the past two seasons and the head coach at Syracuse University four seasons before that, spent 2006-2008 as the New Orleans Saints' offensive coordinator and was the New York Jets' offensive line coach from 2002-2005.

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said the interview process with Marrone started in a conversational stage, with Marrone still considered a candidate for head coaching jobs. As Bradley pieced together a retooled offensive staff, the idea of Marrone's current position came into shape.

"He expressed interest as it went on about getting back to coaching guys with their hands in the ground, back in coaching the offensive line," Bradley said. "I think as it developed for me I really gravitated towards him."

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson, also hired two weeks ago, said while the two never have worked together, Marrone's reputation not only for toughness but for teaching precedes him.

"That's the other thing that came up, that he's an unbelievable teacher of those positions on the offensive line," Olson said.

Marrone, 50, takes over a young line that struggled at times last season, and one that could undergo further changes this offseason. The Jaguars as an offense allowed a league-high, franchise-record 71 sacks during a season in which the unit ranked 31st in the NFL in total yards.

"It's a responsibility for anyone that's involved in protection, and it's a responsibility of the whole offense," Marrone said when discussing sacks. "If receivers can't get open man-to-man, the quarterback has to hold the ball. If an offensive lineman gets beat, or a running back or a tight end ... there are a lot of things that go into it."

The Jaguars finished 21st in the NFL in rushing last season with the line starting two rookies – center Luke Bowanko and guard Brandon Linder – as well as second-year left tackle Luke Joeckel, second-year right tackle Austin Pasztor and fifth-year left guard Zane Beadles, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Denver last offseason.

"Obviously, we want to have a lot of pride in what we do," he said. "We want to have a lot of pride in protecting the quarterbacks and protecting the running backs. I think every line is built from that part inside out. We have that by nature. We just have to work to improve each day.

"We don't want to be giving up a lot of sacks and hits."

Marrone said when reviewing last season he liked the players' movement as well as the ability to finish, the latter of which he called "probably the hardest thing to teach as a coach."

"Basically, we're going to have to go back and work on our foundation, develop them, but the one thing I've always had difficulty is someone being able to finish, to give a relentless type of effort at the end," he said. "The one thing I have seen on film is that, which is really encouraging."

Marrone also on Thursday specifically addressed Joeckel. The No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, Joeckel started all 16 games at left tackle this past season after starting four at right tackle and one at left tackle as a rookie. He missed the final 11 games of his rookie season.

"We loved him," Marrone said. "He was way up there on our draft board, and I think he was up there on everyone's draft board. That's one of the key pieces that you want. What people don't realize is how young he really is. This year could be like his rookie year, so he's going to get better every day."

The Jaguars ran predominately zone-blocking schemes in 2013 under then-line coach George Yarno and did so again in 2014, when Yarno missed the season fighting cancer and the group was coached by interim offensive line coach Luke Butkus. Bradley said during his season-ending press conference that he expected the line to continue using zone-blocking techniques because it fit the personnel, and said the same Thursday.

"Right now in the beginning stages as you look at it you should still see more zone schemes with some gap schemes involved – very similar to last year," Bradley said.

And while Marrone hasn't been a line coach in 10 years, he said he looked forward to the opportunity to return to that position.

"When you're going up (in the coaching ranks), you have the chance to help more people, meaning other assistant coaches, a bigger group of players." Marrone said. "At the same time, what you lose is that position. I've always thought when I was a position coach, 'There's a bond there that's just so strong.' I'm not going to argue that it's stronger than the bond between the player and a head coach, but it's strong.

"Having that type of relationship and bond is something that even though I was moving forward is something I always wanted and I always missed."

Also on Thursday:

*Olson reiterated what he said last week about the primary focus of him and the rest of the offensive coaching staff being the development of quarterback Blake Bortles. "You have to start with the quarterback in mind," Olson said. "Knowing the expectations of where this kid was taken, the expectation level and the talent level … if everything we do is not with Blake Bortles' development in mind then we're selling the franchise short and we're selling the team short. First and foremost it will start around Blake." …

*Olson, the Jaguars' quarterbacks coach in 2012 before spending the last two seasons as the Oakland Raiders' offensive coordinator, said he has been struck by the roster turnover since his departure. The Jaguars at the end of last season started two offensive players – wide receiver Cecil Shorts III and tight end Marcedes Lewis – who were on the roster in 2012. Reserve quarterback Chad Henne started the last six games of that season. "The number of new faces on the team was a little stunning to me, but I also understand that's what happens when there is staff changeover or when the won-loss record isn't what the expectations are," he said. …

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